Life · Lists

Liebster Award and Blogger to Blogger Personal Tag

It’s been a very hectic week here at Magpie Making Do (for a variety of personal reasons that I’m not going to get into here, including a death in the family), and I’ve noticed myself feeling very guilty about not posting in more than a week and a half – which is nice, because it’s been a while since I had even enough energy to feel guilty about my absences. The guilt makes me feel like I’m FINALLY getting back into the swing of consistent posting!

But anyway, I don’t have a huge amount of time this week, and it’s been a very long time since I’ve done a “get to know me” post. I always struggle with them, as I’m never sure how to format them and always feel a little self-conscious about sharing like that. But luckily, in all the chaos of the last week I’ve been handed the answer on a silver platter.

Mimi over at Glitz and Glitter (go check her out, she’s awesome!) tagged me in both the Liebster Award and a Personal Tag post, and both have a “get to know the blogger” component that fit the bill just perfectly. This said, I’m not going to be able to meet the “tag others” requirement for either of these, mainly because I got too behind during my absence and have now lost track of which of my bloggy friends have already done the tag/been nominated! So I’m just going to say, if you feel like doing the “From One Blogger to Another” personal tag, let me know in the comments, and then consider yourself tagged!

So here are the rules: at the end of this post, I’ll have 11 questions for you to answer. Write a blog post answering them, pose your own 11 questions for your tagees, and then tag others as you so desire. OR, if you’ve already done the tag, but would still be interested in answering my questions, you can always answer one, or all of them in the comments! I’d love to hear from you and get to know you, even if tag posts aren’t your thing!

I’m going to be answering the 11 that Mimi posed in both tags, and including 11 facts about myself (for a total of 33 things! I promise to keep them short. Mostly.) so that I’m satisfying both post requirements as best as I can.

So here we go!

From One Blogger to Another

11 Questions from the Personal Tag:

1) What is one quality that you look for in a potential romantic partner?

I don’t think there is a word that exists for everything that my SO Jim is, but if so – that. (Sappy and gross and gushy, I know, but oh well. I kind of really like him.)

2) What is your favorite body wash product at the moment?

I love the Philosophy 3in1 body washes. My current fave is Bubbly – but there was a Margarita one I had years ago that I loved just as much. They’re all pretty awesome though.

3) Favorite film?

These kind of questions are always so hard because I can never just choose one. The Princess Bride is up there on the list. So are all the Monty Python movies and everything Mel Brooks has ever done. Oh, and Ever After. And I can’t forget about Little Women. Or Office Space. Or Legally Blonde. Or all the 90s Disney movies… you get the picture. I am incapable of playing favorites.

4) What is a song that touches your soul (Sad, happy, funny, etc.)?

Currently, the new Kesha song feels particularly hard-hitting for me, considering all she’s been through. Pulls at my heartstrings and makes me want to belt along in solidarity with her.

5) What is your blogging platform and why did you chose that one?

I use wordpress, and it’s mainly because after using Blogger for years, I felt like the platform wasn’t updating at a rate that kept it customizable and functional anymore – particularly as I started running into commenting problems that just NEVER seemed to get fixed (still haven’t – all my friends who still use it but haven’t heard from me in a while, I PROMISE I’m still reading). Additionally, a lot of my friends use wordpress on the daily for their actual jobs, so know I have a lot of resources for if anything ever confuses me.

6) Goals that you would like to complete by the end of 2017?

I would like to have my blog switched over to a self-hosted site. I have my domain name and everything, I’ve just been putting it off because fixing all the links and watermarks is going to be SUCH a pain in the tukhus.

7) What is your favorite perfume/cologne (if you wear one)?

I’m allergic to something that’s in a lot of the more expensive perfumes, so my choices are pretty limited, and for the most part tend to be cheap. I switch back and forth from using the few bottles of GAP Heaven that I still have left (this was my signature scent for almost 15 years, and I was super disappointed when they discontinued it) and my Bath and Body Works Energy Orange Ginger Body Spray (which apparently they also discontinued. I have such bad luck with fragrances I like and am not allergic to). I’m going to have to find a new one soon enough. I like Kate Spade’s Walking on Air a lot, and it doesn’t seem to bother my allergies, so I might have to switch to that as I run out of my faves.

8) What is one thing from your bucket list that you want to do, but is also thrilling to you? (Ex: sky diving, bungee jumping, etc.)

Traveling to a foreign country by myself.

9) What was your cringiest date that you ever went on?

I didn’t really date a lot before Jim and I found each other, so I kind of don’t really have an answer to this one?

10)Favorite place to go to?

Bookstores. Always bookstores.

11) Scale of 1-10, how bad do you think your drivers’ license (or ID) photo is? (1 being not bad at all, 10 being absolutely horrible)?

I actually quite like my current Drivers License photo. So, 9?


11 questions from the Liebester Award post:

1) What is your dream job and why?

I love my job teaching History. It’s certainly not what I saw myself doing when I was in High School, but I don’t think I’d be truly happy doing anything else anymore. I love it.

2) Who is your celebrity crush?

I don’t really crush on celebrities these days the “OMG They’re so hot” way I did when I was younger. I guess the closest thing to a celebrity crush I have these days is Jackie Chan. I love him in pretty much everything he’s ever been in – the good, the bad, and the cheesy. I also have a little bit of a girl crush on Queen Elizabeth II (which if you’ve ever been over to my Pinterest, you’ve probably realized since I basically have an entire board devoted to her and Kate Middleton’s dresses). I admire her poise and composure and basically just everything about her. I’m sure the issue would be slightly more fraught for me if I actually lived in the UK, but from the outside looking in (particularly in light of recent US politics) the relatively unwavering steadiness and class of Queen Elizabeth’s reign is admirable to me.

3) What is your go-to treat to satisfy your sweet tooth?

Depends on my mood. I’ve been on a Fruit Mentos kick lately though.

4) Have you traveled and where?

I’ve road tripped around the east of the US a little bit, but the furthest I’ve ever been is China. It was awesome. I’ll write about that experience here someday.

5) Do you have any kids/do you want any kids in the future?

I don’t right now, but someday it would be nice.

6) What was the last movie you went to go see in the movie theater?

The Beauty and the Beast Live Action. Emma Watson was great, but they should have spent a little more time training her voice instead of relying on auto-tune in post. Also, they RUINED the yellow ball gown, which was super disappointing.

7) What is your favorite skin care product?

My skincare routine is pretty low maintenance and utilitarian so I don’t really have a ton of stuff. I love my Julep Restorative Facial Milk for when I feel like pampering my skin a little bit though. It makes it feel so soft.

8) If you could visit any painter from the past, who would it be and why?

Probably DaVinci, mainly because I hope he’d be exactly like he was portrayed in Ever After. Which is another movie I love.

9) Coffee, tea, or both?

Both. But always coffee in the morning. Gotta have my two cups or I’ve got a murderous headache by 1 pm.

10) If you could give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?

Stop caring about what other people think so much. Have some confidence to stand on your own and start trusting your own gut. You’ll shorten some long, frustrating roads for yourself that way.

11) What are your future goals and ambitions?

To be happy no matter where the road takes me.

11 facts about myself:

1) I play a lot of musical instruments: Cello, French Horn, and Bass are my main axes, but I can also get by on Violin, Viola, and trumpet, as long as I’m playing with a section. In addition I was a Vocal Performance major for a while in college. There was some debate for a while between my voice teachers about whether I was a spinto soprano or a mezzo with an unusually extended high range. I don’t think they ever worked it out.

2) I really love the Dragon Age video game series. Like, I REALLY LOVE IT YOU GUYS. Yes, I needed to yell.

3) I also really like to draw, but get very frustrated with it, because I quit doing it for about 7 or 8 years, and now that I’m picking it back up I can’t stop thinking about where I COULD be if I hadn’t stopped. Because I’m an insufferable perfectionist.

4) I have a nostalgic soft spot for 90’s anime & its art style. I love me some DBZ, Gundam Wing, and Sailor Moon. I even have a little Sandrock action figure that lives on my desk at work and a Gunpla that Jim made me for my birthday which is basically my favorite thing on my bookshelves.

5) While I don’t watch a lot of anime anymore, I still occasionally find a series that I love to pieces. I have followed Attack on Titan religiously, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is on my list of top 5 greatest series of ANYTHING that I’ve ever seen/read.

6) There are precisely two people in the world that I am capable of having a normal, not-full-of-awkward-pauses-and-weirdness conversation with on the phone. One of them is my mother. I basically have to text everyone else because for some reason I am incapable of speaking on the phone like a normal human unless it’s 100% business related.

7) My very first crush was Harrison Ford as Han Solo. I think I might have been like, 6?

8) I love me a good anti-hero.

9) I really really want to go to a con in costume someday, but I’m hesitant because I feel like my costume will never be perfect enough for me to be satisfied with it and feel fabulous in it instead of self-conscious/embarrassed. Or that by the time my sewing skills are up to par, I’ll be too old to go as any of the characters I want to go as.

10) I have more yarn than I could possibly knit up in like, 10 years. Even if I did it regularly. Which I don’t.

11) I love reading other people’s “get to know me!” blog posts but always feel super weird and self-conscious writing my own!

So there we have it, and here are my 11 questions for anyone who chooses to do the From Blogger to Blogger Personal Tag. Have fun!

1) What did you want to be “when you grew up” as a kid?
2) Re: Question #1, did you change your mind as you aged, and why? Or why not?
3) What was your favorite school subject, and why?
4) Do you play a musical instrument? If so, which one(s) and for how long? If not, what instrument would you choose if you had to learn one?
5) What’s your favorite book, and why?
6) Who is your favorite historical figure and why? If you don’t have one, who do you admire most in our current culture?
7) Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names? If not, would you like to?
8) What’s your “guilty pleasure” TV show? That show that you LOVE to hate on, but can’t stop watching?
9) What’s your go-to coffee shop order?
10) What was the last book you read, and did you like it?
11) What’s the beauty or fashion trend from your childhood/teen years that makes you cringe most thinking about it?


(I am not affiliated in any way with Philosophy or Julep besides being a loyal happy customer.)
Book Love · Lists · Magpie Reviews

#ReadWomenMonth Reading Wrap-Up

Participating in StasiaLikesCakes’ Read Women Month was a really fun, fulfilling, and enlightening experience. I did both the Instagram challenge (see that wrap-up here), and the reading challenge, and in the process read 9 books, reacquainted myself with reading fiction regularly, and learned a lot about my reading preferences and habits. I realized how much I miss just reading for the sake of entertainment, and discovered some great series and authors.

So what’d I read? Well, because I ended up going through so many books, I’m not going to review each and every one here. I will be doing full reviews on a few of them in the future (I’ve got the Throne of Glass series reviews already written), but I thought I’d quick run-down what I finished, and give you a general idea of what I thought.

So here goes nothing!

Read Women Month my pic

Book 1) Japan – 1941: Countdown to Infamy by Eri Hotta – 4/5 stars – Super informative and unlike anything else that I’ve read on the subject so far. Pretty groundbreaking, and certainly shocking in many ways, this gave insight into the inner political workings of Japan as they inched closer to war with the United States. Ultimately it becomes a cautionary tale of a failed political structure and the impact personality can have on decision making within governments. Honestly, I will probably read this again at some point in the future, complete with highlighter and note-taking pen.

throne of glass series

Book 2) Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas – 3/5 stars – The third book in the Throne of Glass series was good, but just not as good as its predecessors. This book was very much a “set-up” for the next, and that created some pretty significant pacing problems.

Book 3) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas – 3/5 stars – The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series has the opposite problem of its predecessor. It’s got great pacing and plot, but the character development gets a bit strange in this one. Some characters that have been so brilliantly established in the prior installments just don’t feel like themselves in this one.

Book 4) Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas – 2.5/5 stars – Like Queen of Shadows, the fifth Throne of Glass series has a gripping plot and break-neck pacing, but in many other ways feels extremely unpolished. Once again I was very disappointed with the character development, and in addition to making me wonder how this series is still categorized as YA, all the cringey sex scenes were extremely disruptive to the narrative.

star touched queen

Book 5) The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – 4/5 stars – This was a really fun read, with wonderful world-building and gorgeous imagery, but it loses just a little of its “oompf” in the second half, feeling rather rushed through the end. My god would I want to see this as a movie though. Think of the sets, and the costumes!

Book 6) Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh – 4/5 stars – An engaging ride from beginning to end. I sped through this in about 10 hours and I loved every second of it. The world, the characters, the story, the cliffhanger at the end… My word. While it’s certainly not perfect, from an enjoyment point of view, the only serious problem I have with it is that it’s first in a series, and because it just came out I won’t be able to get my hands on the next part for a long time.

reading on balcony

Book 7) Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – 3/5 stars – Definitely not the most original premise – and Mare read a lot like Katniss Everdeen, but with electricity magic and a libido instead of a bow and arrow and fear of babies – but overall it was quite fun. But I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t mind reading the same premise a thousand times told in different ways if I enjoy it. And I enjoyed this one.

Book 8) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – 3/5 stars – Very predictable, but overall well executed. I enjoyed the formatting, and even though I saw the twist coming a mile away, it didn’t take away anything from the reading experience because it was believable that Maddy didn’t. The biggest issue is that the fallout after the twist seems like an afterthought when it should be so much more considering the magnitude of it, so as a result the ending felt rather abrupt.

Reichs Novel

Book 9) Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs (Technically finished July 2nd, but I started it before the month was over, so I’m still counting it!) – 3/5 stars – Not the best Reichs novel I’ve read, mostly because I am 100% uninterested in NASCAR, and in Reichs’ style there’s a lot of learning about the subjects surrounding the murder. But that didn’t take as much of a toll on enjoying the mystery as I thought it would, and the mystery ended up being pretty engaging. I did quite miss Detective Ryan though. I also think I may have missed a couple books before this… I can’t quite remember exactly which book was the last one I read. Luckily, as a whodunnit kind of book, it didn’t cause too much confusion.

Did you participate in #ReadWomenMonth this June? Read anything you’d recommend?

Book Love · Life · Lists · Travel

June Wrap-Up and July Goals

toes at myrtle beach

Ah, another month gone, another goals wrap-up post – and June did NOT go as smoothly in terms of goals as I hoped it would. That said, it wasn’t quite the total failure that it could have been.

So how’d I do?

Well, June was a strange one this year. I spent the first two and a half weeks rush rush rushing to clean, and prep classes, and run errands, and catch up on everything I always let go during the semester when I’m working 14-18 hour days all week. And then the last week and a half I did, well, nothing. Positively nothing but read, and eat, and travel.

And it was pretty glorious.

We spent a week+ driving up and down the east coast with a bunch of friends. Our main stops were at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Cape Coral, Florida, and it was just so nice. I rarely have the opportunity to vacation due to my less-than-stellar income (Disney this year was a trip three years in the making), and so I’m incredibly grateful that our friend invited Jim and I along, because it was just what I needed to decompress after a crazy start to the year. And by golly did we eat well. Our friend who hosted the trip is also a trained chef, and he cooked for us all week.

reading on balcony

So I return to July with a still-full belly, refreshed, motivated, and excited about what’s to come, even if I didn’t meet every goal I set for June. Which I didn’t.

Because I was constantly running until vacation started, and because it got SO hot SO suddenly, I was pretty hit-and-miss on the meal planning and take-out ban. Likewise with the workout or walk every day. My body very much does not adjust to heat well, and certainly not when the change is so sudden, and between feeling like crap and the temperature of our 3rd floor, no AC apartment I just DID NOT want to cook.

I did start a Couch to 5k program, but progress ended up stagnating as the heat kept me stuck in the week one program. My personal rule for myself is that I don’t move on to the next week’s program until I can finish the program I’m on with relative ease. And with the heat the way it has been, I am STILL struggling with week one.

My blog and reading goals, on the other hand, were a decent success. I stayed much more active on both Twitter and Instagram, posting most days this month. That said, I definitely don’t have the hang of using twitter in a way that increases engagement yet. I also managed to write a whole bunch of book reviews to have waiting in the wings here. Reading-wise I participated in StasiaLikesCakes’ #ReadWomenMonth (see my posts about it here and here), which when combined with my rediscovery of fiction made reading for pleasure a huge part of my life again for June (and hopefully for the foreseeable future).

Cape Coral Brewery

So overall I’d say things went pretty well. Which means… new(ish) goals for July.

1) First of all, I want to continue writing surplus posts for here, while actually posting regularly. I also want to make sure I get a good mix of stuff in my backlog, so that every single post isn’t a book review. I want to get back into crafting and making, and maybe even some beauty posts. Basically I want to make sure what I’m writing keeps me in the realm of “Lifestyle Blog.” Why does it matter? Well, because I know myself. I know that if I let myself get too focused on one niche, and build the blog around solely that – ultimately it’s not going to last, because I’m going to get bored. That’s how I work. So I want to make sure I’m keeping a good mix of stuff, even if I’m not currently doing anything but reading, or knitting, or whatever the hobby of the week happens to be.

2) Start not just watching what I spend on food, but also watching what I eat. Having a full week where all we ate were expertly prepared home-cooked meals has spoiled me in a very good way. I find myself craving super processed stuff like fast-food and boxed mac and cheese far less now that I’m back, and I’m just going to go with it. More fresh food and ingredients. Less stuff from a box.

3) Keep moving more, and keep up with the Couch to 5k, even if it’s sloooowwwww going.

4) Keep reading regularly. I managed to read nine (!!!) books in June. I know I probably won’t hit that this month, since I’m teaching a summer class now and also wading knee-deep into prep for the fall, but I still want to keep reading for fun as a regular part of my down time.

And lastly, shifting gears just a bit:

5) Start trying to catch up on my photo albums. I’m seriously like two years behind. Whoops.

So stay tuned, and let’s see how I do.

How did your June go? What are your goals for July?